Glass slippers, talking mice, an awaiting carriage—anyone who has read or watched the fairytales knows which Disney princess I’m talking about. The classic Cinderella movie has been remade over ten times, and the formula always stays the same. Two stepsisters? Check. Evil stepmother? Check. Shoe lost and found by prince charming? Another check.
The movie industry is back yet again with another take on Cinderella—one that arguably shouldn’t have been made. While younger audiences may devour this latest iteration with the upbeat pop songs and standard plot, adult audiences won’t be as easily convinced.
Cinderella (2021) tells the story of Elle (a.k.a Cinderella, played by Camila Cabelo) who dreams of being a business woman who sells her own dresses. She’s just like any other Cinderella with a stepmother, two stepsisters, mice as friends, and a beautiful dress ready for her to wear at the ball, but her dream to make and sell dresses is more important than true love.
While an ambitious Cinderella is refreshing, the film doesn’t have strong enough scenes with compelling dialogue to pull it off. If Cinderella (2021) had been less cringe-inducing, maybe the independent Cinderella concept could have worked.
This version tries too hard poking fun at Cinderella, pointing out all the things people in the 21st century would frown upon in the eighteen hundreds. And I get it. The new Cinderella tries to teach kids important lessons, such as self-perception or how women should be as independent as men. While these lessons are important, they should have been incorporated into the film in a way that was more appropriate to the time period. Keep in mind this retelling of Cinderella takes place back in the day with carriages and corsets, but then characters consistently blurt out modern slang and sing random pop songs. The two—the old-fashioned setting and the modern tongue—do not mix. If the movie was trying to go for a more modern spin, changing the setting to modern day would have been a smarter decision. Other Cinderella remakes set in modern day have been successful, so how come the new remake didn’t just hop on the bandwagon?
The worst part of Cinderella (2021) has to be all of the pop songs in the soundtrack.note: Sword Art Online-Progressive-Aria without Starry Night
At times it felt like I stopped watching Cinderella and turned on America’s Got Talent, watching a bunch of haphazard music numbers. The audience switches between listening to rap, hip-hop, pop, and a capella in the span of the movie. Cinderella (2021) should have included original songs in the soundtrack, but instead we get remixes of Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” Madonna’s “Material Girl,” and Nico & Vinc’s “Am I Wrong” among others. None of the songs help create a tone for the musical, and it’s as if the screenwriters put little consideration into their music decisions.
While the pop songs feel out-of-place—really, why are there random rap sequences?—Cinderella (2021) at least cast the talented Camila Cabello for the lead. Even though the musical feels like one music video after another— and the cringe dialogue or the plot doesn’t help—at least Cabello can sing. But, at that point, you might as well just listen to the soundtrack separately to hear Cabello’s voice instead of sitting through a musical that feels like it lost its purpose along the way.
Some parts of the film provide great commentary to the original Cinderella. The retelling portrays both prince charming (or Prince Robert, played by Nicholas Galitzine,) and the stepmother Vivian (Idinia Menzel) as dumb (which serves them right—in the original story could the two really not recognize Cinderella at the ball? She has the same face!) The retelling acknowledges the character’s clear intelligent levels, but this inclusion doesn’t make this atrocity of a film any more appealing.
The best (or only good part) about the film is how it takes the time to give the audience members an update on the mice-turned-humans during the ball. And the mice’s reactions are priceless. How come Cinderella movies never did this before? James Corden’s line (as one of the mice) is perhaps the the most hilarious part of the whole movie, especially when he screams in terror, “I feel tingly!” before unfortunately turning back into a mouse.
Don’t go into Cinderella (2021) with any expectations. And don’t assume if you like the original, you’ll ultimately like the remake. Cinderella (2021) may contain a bunch of spells, but it is far from magical.